Dumbbells, barbells and exercise machines are most athletes’ go-to equipment for building strength and power. But sticking with the same routine can lead to overtraining or plateaus. Resistance bands are a versatile and viable—not to mention convenient—option for athletes who crave intense workouts that enhance full-body strength and power.
The bands' elasticity, which is constantly working against you, allows you to choose between strength and power exercises—performing movements at a moderate pace for prolonged muscle contractions, or quickly and explosively for more powerful contractions. You get an intense workout either way. Or, mix them up, together with alternating movements to improve coordination and gain strength and power.
One resistance band has the potential to mimic any free weight exercise. Step on a band that has a handle on both sides to perform Squats, Bicep Curls, Shoulder Presses, Upright Rows, Lateral Raises, Rear Delt Flies and Tricep Extensions. Combine two or three exercises for a compound move [learn more about the benefits of compound exercises].
Resistance bands can also simulate your favorite machine exercises. Wrap the band around a post to create a pulley effect, and hit those massive muscles in the chest and back with a Standing Chest Press or Row. Work rotational core strength with Cable Rotations. Again, you can speed up, slow down or alternate during any exercise to further challenge your muscles and coordination.
The band’s small size and light weight allow you to bring them to the gym and use them at home. Depending on the manufacturer, there are approximately five bands in a package, ranging from very light to ultra heavy resistance. Five bands can easily fit into a backpack, giving you the means to create intense workouts that would require multiple pairs of dumbbells.
When using resistance bands, follow safety guidelines like you would for any other piece of exercise equipment. Err on the side of caution by using lighter resistance during the first few workouts. As you become more accustomed to the bands, use heavier resistance for exercises with a strength focus and lighter resistance for power. Strength exercises should be performed at a moderate pace; power exercises should be completed as quickly as possible while maintaining proper form.